Mapping Media Freedom: Five incidents to watch

January 16, 2017

Each week, Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project verifies threats, violations and limitations faced by the media throughout the European Union and neighbouring countries. Here are five recent reports that give us cause for concern.

Turkey: Hatay journalist arrested on terror related charges

A Hatay court issued a detention order for Ceren Taşkin, a reporter for the local newspaper Hatay Ses, on the basis of her social media posts, news website Gazete Karinca reported.

Taşkin was detained earlier for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist group” via her social media posts. Taşkin was arrested and sent to prison on 12 January on the same charges.

Her arrest brings the number of journalists in prison to 148, Platform 24 reported.

Ukraine/Ykpaïha: Authorities ban independent Russian TV channel Dozhd

The National Radio and TV Council has banned independent Russian television channel Dozhd from broadcasting in the country.

“The channel portrayed the administrative border between Crimea and Kherson region as the border between Ukraine and Russia,” national council member Serhiy Kostynskyy said during a council meeting, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

According to Kostynskyy, the channel repeatedly violated Ukrainian law in 2016 by broadcasting Russian advertising and having Dozhd journalists illegally enter annexed Crimea from the Russian Federation without receiving special permission.

The ban is set to be officially published by the authorities on 16 January, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

Dozhd Director Natalya Sindeyeva said that the channel is broadcasting through IP-connection without direct commercial advertising in Ukraine and follows the Russian Federation law requiring that media outlets use maps to show Crimea as part of Russia.

Dunja Mijatovic, media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, wrote on her Twitter that this decision is “very damaging to media pluralism in Ukraine.”

Greece: Media executives arrested following lawsuit from defence minister

Police arrested Giannis Kourtakis, publisher of Parapolitika newspaper, and its director, Panayiotis Tzenos, following a lawsuit filed against them for libel and extortion by the defence minister and leader of the Independent Greeks Party (ANEL), Panos Kammenos, the news website SKAI reports.

Kourtakis said he voluntarily went to police headquarters after being informed about the lawsuit, while director Panagiotis Tzenos was arrested in his Athens office.

ANEL issued a statement stressing that the lawsuit was prompted by allegedly slanderous claims about Kammenos’s son, saying that he was an “anarchist” and involved in a terrorist group on their radio programme which aired on 9 January.

In July 2015, Kammenos gave Athens press union (ESIEA) a list of journalists who had allegedly received improper funding through advertising from the state health entity KEELPNO, which included the Parapolitika executives.

According to SKAI, Kammenos claims that the journalists made slanderous statements about his son in order to make him retract allegations that the Parapolitika executives were receiving funding.

The public prosecutor who investigated the lawsuit has since reportedly dropped charges of criminal extortion.

Greece’s main journalists’ union and opposition parties have expressed concern over the general tendency of police’s interventions to journalists’ offices.

“Journalism must be exercised according to specific rules, but also press freedom must be defended and protected,” the Journalists’ Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers writes in its statement.

Russia/Россия: Caucasian Knot correspondent beaten in Rostov

Vladislav Ryazantcev, correspondent for the independent news agency Caucasian Knot, reported on Facebook that he was assaulted by five unknown individuals whose faces were covered by scarves.

According to Ryazantcev, one of them grabbed his hand and asked him to “follow him for a talk.” Right after that an additional four individuals came up and started to hit the journalist on the head.

Ryazantcev reported that bystanders then helped rescued him.

“I do not know what the attack is connected to,” he wrote on Facebook. He later filed a complaint to the police.

The day before on 9 January, Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, published threats against editor-in-chief of the Caucasian Knot, Grigori Shvedov, on Instagram.

France: TV journalists assaulted in Compiègne

A TV crew working for TF1 channel was reportedly assaulted in Compiègne while trying to film a building set to be emptied of its inhabitants because of alleged high criminality linked to drug trafficking, Courrier Picard reported.

“We tried to film a story there this morning. Our crew was attacked and stoned by thugs who stole our camera in this unlawful zone. It was very violent,” TF1 presenter Jean-Pierre Pernaud said. The assault occurred in the Close des Roses neighbourhood.

One of the journalists told Courrier Picard that the channel would file a complaint.

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